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What Can You Find Out From Metadata? 341

Posted by samzenpus
from the reading-between-the-lines dept.
cervesaebraciator writes "In the wake of recent revelations from Edward Snowden, apologists for the state security apparatus are predictably hitting the airwaves. Some are even 'glad' the NSA has been doing this. A major point they emphasize is that the content of calls have remained private and it is only the metadata that they're interested in. But given how much one can tell from interpersonal connections, does the surveillance only represent a 'modest encroachments on privacy?' It is easy enough to imagine how metadata on phone calls made to and from a medical specialist could be more revealing than we'd like. But social network analysis can reveal far more. Duke sociologist Kieran Healy, in a light-hearted but telling article, shows how one father of the American Revolution could have been identified using the simplest tools of social network analysis and only a limited dataset."
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What Can You Find Out From Metadata?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:13PM (#43966435)

    Unequal application of government power and laws is directly akin to removal or destruction of a person or organization's citizenship and rights. It is directly equivalent to the acts of a Slaver.

    Slavery, or the forced removal/infringement of a person's civil rights for the pleasure or profit of another is considered to be an act of Hostis Humani Generis, or in other words, an Enemy Of All Mankind.

    Everyone involved in this atrocity should be hanged after trial.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      Thank goodness this post is being modded up. I was worried that thoughtful discussion was going to break out. "Bend over" indeed.

  • by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:17PM (#43966477) Homepage
    I'll know it is modest if the general public can get a dump of the meta data for every elected office holder as well as their staff members, and all judges. If they have nothing to hide then this shouldn't be a problem. If not then the NSA can fuck off.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cold fjord (826450)

      I'll know it is modest if the general public can get a dump of the meta data for every elected office holder as well as their staff members, and all judges.

      Fine then. Will that also be the standard for:
      - All future search warrants (Your honor, its only fair to give the suspect your data too.)
      - A prerequisite for submitting tax forms ( Give me your data tax examiner and I'll give you mine?)
      - Answering census forms (So, census taker, do you have your data along with the Commissioners?)
      - Permit requests (If you want me to open this business here, where is the data for the town council?)

      Every elected office holder? And staff? And all judges?

      Oh yeah, that is wel

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:40PM (#43966753)

      maybe, you don't consider it so bad to have a government computer find out who my friends
      are, what I bought, and where I traveled.

      whats happening already though is your aggregate information is being used to profile you based
      on whether or not you cluster with normal acceptable people. what happens if you get labelled
      an outlier by some heuristics the govenment used..well, of course you get increased surveillance.

      ok. but what happens when that profile, much like a credit check is already being used today,
      restricts your ability to fly on an airplane, or get a government or other job. or travel outside
      the country. what happens if you get stopped by the police for a headlight being out, and because you have a yellow star
      in your file they decide to detain you for enhanced questioning techniques.

      you're just a tiny hair away from having the government make a value judgement totally opaque to you about
      your entire life, without you having broken any laws. deciding whether you are probably a good guy or
      possibly a bad guy.

      you still think thats ok

    • by BSAtHome (455370)

      So you can map the corruption of the politicians. That would be a positive way to use computing power.

      It may be a good exercise for every so-called democratic country to do this not only at the political level, but also at the departmental level.

      Journalists, please contact your nearby university's math-department and publish the results.

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      You don't in the name of "National Security" and anti-terrorism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054)

      I'll know it is modest if the general public can get a dump of the meta data for every elected office holder as well as their staff members, and all judges.

      There you go again, buying into the lie that it was JUST META DATA.

      There isn't a single security professional that believes that. Even Obama knew he was lying thru his teeth when he said that.
      But that shoe won't be allowed to drop now that they are on guard, at least not for another few months.

      Its not JUST metadata.

      • Meta data gets you far more information that just the content of the phone conversations. Who, where, when, how long all paint a much more thorough & accurate picture than just 'he said'.

    • by NatasRevol (731260) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:16PM (#43967141) Journal

      That would get them to scream about it.

      Imagine if we could actually hold our public officials accountable for their actions.

      See here for what it actually looks like for one politician in Germany.

      http://www.zeit.de/datenschutz/malte-spitz-data-retention [www.zeit.de]

      "Green party politician Malte Spitz sued to have German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom hand over six months of his phone data that he then made available to ZEIT ONLINE. We combined this geolocation data with information relating to his life as a politician, such as Twitter feeds, blog entries and websites, all of which is all freely available on the internet."

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I'll know it is modest if the general public can get a dump of the meta data for every elected office holder as well as their staff members, and all judges. If they have nothing to hide then this shouldn't be a problem. If not then the NSA can fuck off.

      Technically, meta data was always obtainable. After all, you need a warrant in order to tap a phone line, but you don't if you just want to hook up a DNR (dialed-number-recorder) to the line. The DNR basically just records down when you picked up the phone, w

  • Apologists Be Damned (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:21PM (#43966523)

    I voted for Obama twice.

    Anyone who serves as apologist for the NSA, the Whitehouse, and Congress on this proves himself an enemy of the Constitution and the American people. There is no justification for this. There is no gentle dismantling of the Constitution. It stands above this or any government in Washington, D.C. Anyone in Washington D.C. who assaults it like this means the destruction of our Republic and the subjugation of its people.

    Obama must be impeached. The Congressmen and Senators who support his actions must be impeached. The courts who OK this must be removed. Washington D.C. must be burned to the ground and rebuilt if there are none there who will honor their oaths to defend and uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:23PM (#43966553) Journal

      I voted for Obama twice.

      Then you have no one to blame but yourself. Obama openly supported warrantless wiretaps before his election in 2004.

      • by sjames (1099)

        So where was the sunshine and lilipops candidate he should have voted for? The one who stood behind dismantling the deathgrip of the military-industrial complex, the rollback of unconstitutional domestic spying, etc?

      • by thoth (7907)

        Obama openly supported warrantless wiretaps before his election in 2004.

        So the better choice was... Bush, who implemented this whole thing without telling anybody? Romney, who would what - scrap the whole thing? Be serious.

        Do you remember the original warrantless wiretapping scandal? You may not like it, but the unfortunate bottom line is this time around it is "more" legal. As in - strengthened by Congress including oversight, and upheld by courts.

    • I voted for Obama twice.

      Well, I found your problem.

      Now, I can understand why some people would vote for him the first time, after all, his rhetoric wasn't bad! Ending the wars and closing Guantanamo Bay were good ideas, however, it should be clear by the end of his first term that he was nothing more than Bush part II.

      • I voted for Obama twice because the plausible alternatives both times were far worse. Let's be clear. Obama is not quite Bush II. (That would actually be GWB, who was second after GHWB.) It's important to note that Obama actually used the courts to obtain warrants for the NSA data collection and for the AP and Fox News searches. Most people believe that the FISA courts are just rubber stamps, especially after Congress eased restrictions on the FISA warrant process in 2008. However, it does mean that all thr

    • by Bodhammer (559311)
      "How's that hopey, changey thing working out for you?"
      • by Holi (250190)

        Not well, but I can't imagine it would have been any better with the other choices.

        • Few things are more common among humanity than a failure of imagination.

        • by ArcherB (796902)

          Not well, but I can't imagine it would have been any better with the other choices.

          I know! States rights must suck. I'd hate having to deal with the responsibility of knowing that my vote counts more towards the way my government works. Double that because of the effort I'd have to put into voting in state elections.

          The horror!

          • by peragrin (659227) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:16PM (#43967691)

            you do realize the only reason why republicans wants states right so they can take away rights of those they deem to be less than human right?

            Whites only, isn't racist Rush Limbaugh said so. Women shouldn't work they take away jobs from MEN. Women can stop a pregnancy by rape any time if they get pregnant during a rape they most really have wanted it anyways.

            Those are actual arguments made by recent Republicans. Democrats aren't much better but are currently the lesser of two evils when it comes to personal freedoms. current wiretapping issues included.

            The problem everyone seems to forget that without laws telling us what can not do we will do things like pollute our drinking water, swim in shit, and not think twice about throwing our garbage into our neighbors property.

            Take a look at the sky in pictures from the 60's 70's and early 80's notice the pollution and how cloudy everything is? That is how bad things have to get before we do the right thing. Humans are Lazy and we will take every short cut we can get away with.

        • by Bodhammer (559311)
          Try this, imagine Government officials and every one else who swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the US, actually did so and that people voted on that basis rather than on soaring rhetoric, lies, and propaganda. Oh yea, and they actually had some experience and track record of doing so.
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:36PM (#43966693) Homepage Journal

        "How's that hopey, changey thing working out for you?"

        One would think, if for no other reason, he'd have done a better job just to prove that stupid bitch wrong.

        *Sigh* You know the situation is royally fuckt when Sarah Palin quotes start to sound so much as half-assed intelligent...

    • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrEricSir (398214) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:29PM (#43966613) Homepage

      Obama must be impeached. The Congressmen and Senators who support his actions must be impeached. The courts who OK this must be removed. Washington D.C. must be burned to the ground and rebuilt if there are none there who will honor their oaths to defend and uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

      We could do all that, but we'd be right back where we started. The fundamental problem is the American people, who have time and time again said that they simply don't care. The government listening to our calls? We don't care. Reading our emails? We don't care. Hiding disturbing truths about our perpetual wars? We couldn't care less.

      Blame government officials all you want, but remember this: as a democracy we get the government we deserve.

      • by msauve (701917)
        That's a non-sequitur.

        Voting only makes a difference if you have a real choice. The Dems and Reps are flip sides of the same coin. As long as they can keep the bread and circuses going, and keep laws and rules in place which prevent third parties from gaining any real power, they're both in good position to build and maintain power.

        This wouldn't have been any different if the opposite party were in power. We don't have a democracy - the rules are set up to give massive benefits in the process to the two p
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        A democracy and a free society are incompatible because a democracy is simply the tyranny of a majority and leads to the exact same abuses as with a dictatorship or an oligarchy.
        • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:55PM (#43967525)

          A democracy and a free society are incompatible because a democracy is simply the tyranny of a majority and leads to the exact same abuses as with a dictatorship or an oligarchy.

          This is probably the single most idiotic meme floating around this topic. Unfortunately, it's getting more traction recently. The cynic in me is not surprised that it is doing that, as it plays right into the hands of an egoistic elite. The idealist in me is disappointed that no one actually reads what the Founding Fathers wrote on that topic, and that people are walking back a lot of the advances of the Enlightenment and the Renaissance.

          Here's why this train of thought is utterly moronic:
          There are exactly three ways that power can be appointed in a government. The first is self-appointment through physical coercion. The second is appointment by decision of a small subset of the population, which is by necessity the social and economic elite in the population. The third is by general suffrage. There is a fourth one, random decision, but no one has ever implemented that on a significant scale. Everything else just deals with the details of the power transitions, the details of how rules are made and enforced, etc.
          This means that if appointment through general suffrage (which is the only thing that democracy refers to) is just another dictatorship, and since self-appointment by definition results in a dictatorship, the only legitimate form of government is option 2... which coincidentally branches out into the following forms of government: feudalism, theocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy. And now you know why the moneyed elites in the US are so keen on pushing this meme.

          Orwell would be proudly spinning in his grave.

          • Or number 5: reduce the government to a level where it doesn't matter who is in power (or eliminate it entirely).

            The only just government is one that someone voluntarily agrees to (and no, accident of birth does not count).

            I'd suggest you read No Treason by Lysander Spooner, particularly Number VI, No Treason: The Constitution of no Authority.
            • by MrEricSir (398214)

              Or number 5: reduce the government to a level where it doesn't matter who is in power (or eliminate it entirely).

              Replacing the tryanny of an ignorant majority with the tyranny of a well-armed minority is hardly an upgrade.

          • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Informative)

            by reve_etrange (2377702) on Monday June 10, 2013 @07:23PM (#43968115)
            Not to mention the fact that the democracies which actually exist do not implement simple majority-rules tyrannies. They implement representative or hybrid representative / direct systems with significant checks on the power of majorities and minorities.
    • Obama must be impeached. The Congressmen and Senators who support his actions must be impeached. The courts who OK this must be removed.

      There is a problem with your desired outcome. If the Congressmen are all removed, there is nobody to impeach the President. If the Senate is removed, there is nobody available to convict the President if he is impeached. If the court is removed, it will be impossible to replace if there is no President and Senate. Under the procedures of the Senate, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides at any trial of the President. If there is no Chief Justice there is no presiding judge for the trial. Ther

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:23PM (#43966543)

    Why is it suddenly a big deal now?

    NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

    Updated 5/11/2006 10:38 AM ET

    By Leslie Cauley, USA TODAY

    "The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.

    The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans â" most of whom aren't suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews."

    http://yahoo.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm [usatoday.com]

    • Because it is more than just phone calls now, its e-mails, Facebook, and all sorts of web traffic. Very little of my communication is done by cell phone voice, other than at work and the occasional call to a tech-challenged friend most of my communication is through e-mails, skype, IM, and various sites. There's a huge difference between simply logging phone numbers and intercepting communications online.
      • The fact that they sat right on the Internet backbones meant that this was merely a question of funding, not of intent or capability. The next step is DPI of every packet that flows through an NSA closet. And every law-and-order-type person is still going to argue that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

        Very little of my communication is done by cell phone voice, other than at work and the occasional call to a tech-challenged friend most of my communication is through e-mails, skype, IM, and various sites.

        In essence, the "it didn't affect me then, so I didn't care" defense.

        There's a huge difference between simply logging phone numbers and intercepting communications online.

        Since all telephony migrated to IP-technology on the back-end around the mid 00s, there really never was.

  • Analogue analogue (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GODISNOWHERE (2741453) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:23PM (#43966549)

    Its as if someone from the government physically followed you wherever you went and wrote down the places where you made a cell phone call and how long you talked on the phone. The also record when and where you send a text message. Almost everyone would find this unbelievably creepy.

    Of course, no human actually does this for regular citizens, and no human looks at it — unless you are being investigated, which the government don't need probable cause to do (according to their interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT act.) Then it really is as if someone had followed you and recorded all of this information.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:33PM (#43966657)

      Of course, no human actually does this for regular citizens, and no human looks at it — unless you are being investigated, which the government don't need probable cause to do (according to their interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT act.) Then it really is as if someone had followed you and recorded all of this information.

      I doubt you need to be under active investigation to come under scrutiny by an analyst, all you need to do is have similar call patterns as a suspected terrorist and come up in an automated data mining search "Hey, terrorist XYZ made calls to a bunch of Home Depots, Radio Shacks, and truck rental places before he built his bomb. And look, Joe Public called nearly the same set of places. Let's take a look at his email to see what he's been up to". I bet they'd be able to subpoena your email with a single click from the analyst's search app if Amazon hadn't gotten that one-click-shopping patent.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:25PM (#43966571)
    Where is the outrage over this? It's amazing, Clinton gets a blow job from an intern and he gets impeached by the House! But yet this happens and... nothing. Oh, sure, the media is -talking- about it, people are -talking- about it, but where are the protests? Where is the action? Revolutions have been fought over less than this!
    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      Because the population is too busy sucking off the government dick^Wteat to care. Because that's what they voted for, to keep the children safe.

    • by tukang (1209392)

      “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” Mark Twain

    • by thoth (7907)

      Well, Clinton was impeached by the House GOP, since they were dogs sniffing the butthole of scandal.
      Impeaching Obama would highlight the extremely uncomfortable fact that Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, but majority GOP, created the laws that allowed this.

      People online will bitch and moan, but as far as I can tell, everything was done legally. Under Bush they didn't even need a warrant. Now they've got to go through that speedbump for it to be properly sanctioned.

  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:29PM (#43966603) Journal
    I hear over and over in this discussion the salve "only the metadata has been recorded".

    I'm guessing that's simply a function of limited technology, i.e., "today" that's just too much data to store. But in keeping with technologies amazing storage capacity growth, it's only a matter of time before the content is also recorded and archived. It's just too tempting not to.

    • I hear over and over in this discussion the salve "only the metadata has been recorded".

      I'm guessing that's simply a function of limited technology,

      I am sure that is part of it, but historically the US has had much less legal protection for "meta-data" than content. Before the use of the term meta-data, we called it a pen register. [wikipedia.org] Indiviaul pen registers did not require warrants and that makes the whole pen-register for everybody easier for these people to rationalize.

    • by Dareth (47614) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:47PM (#43966819)

      Does the post office or other government branch keep records of from to on regular old snail mail? Would that be acceptable if they did? Isn't that just meta data?

  • by hhawk (26580) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:30PM (#43966619) Homepage Journal

    The government has long wanted better, meaning highly reliable means of conducting traffic analysis... who knows who, who talks to whom, etc. You can use this data for good or bad.. you can use it to break past the limits in typical "cells"... you can find the path/person who links from one cell to another..

    My own take is there is a enough personal data and information in meta data that use of it deprives us of our rights to be secure in our home and in our papers.. our communications with others, Etc.

    Back in the days of the Clipper chip, the chip had done into wide spread use it's use would have given the NSA, Etc nearly perfect traffic analysis since each chip would have it's own unique and cryptographically signed ID. Fast forward, everyone walking around with a cell phone has an unique ID, several in fact including their phone #, and that's the value of all the meta data.. it's often more important than what is being said, it is who is talking to whom...

    Knowing everyone who talked to OBL in say 1995 or 1990 or 1985 would be helpful to find his network in 2001 or 2002, Etc. It can be helpful when tracking bad guys, but it can be used to track anyone for any reason and find their entire network of friends and family.

    • My own take is there is a enough personal data and information in meta data that use of it deprives us of our rights to be secure in our home and in our papers.. our communications with others, Etc.

      I think the very fact that the NSA, et al, consider this "social graph" data to be worth all this effort proves that the data is far too invasive. They simply wouldn't be doing it unless it allowed them to see so much of our private lives.

  • . . . to justify full voice recordings, if an NSA employee feels like it.

    Or if a contractor with Booze Acid Ex-Stasi is bored, and wants some live realtime reality show.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:33PM (#43966653) Homepage

    Oh yes, that makes me feel MUCH better. It concerns me that in the event I ever dialed a wrong number that I could end up on a terrorist watch list somewhere.

  • Basically everything (Score:5, Informative)

    by gweihir (88907) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:35PM (#43966681)

    You need content only to create initial suspicion. Metadata is quite enough to find out whom else to wiretap.

    I do expect however that with the next NSA datacenter or at the latest the one after that they will try to go for full or nearly full voice data retention and analysis in the form for keword filters. I think this is approaching feasibility now. Then they can create initial suspicion from phone conversation contents. What they will also eventually want is full web browsing history, propably reduced to URIs, user-names and passwords. That one is a bit more tricky though, as it requires server-side cooperation for everything SSL, SSL interceptors are never truely invisible. Full email body retention and analysis are also certainly on that list and should be implemented shortly.

    Just as a side-note let me remind everybody that all this has no preventative value against terrorism at all and servers only to identify politically undesirables early on and to create blackmail material for political use and similar applications. It may also serve to identify possible targets whenever the FBI needs to create a few more "terrorists", because there are not enough genuine ones.

  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:42PM (#43966777)
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
    -Benjamin Franklin

    "... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive.
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
    "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
    -Thomas Jefferson

    "The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing."
    John Adams

    "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government."
    -Patrick Henry

    "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is argument of tyrants. It is the creed of slaves."
    -William Pitt

    "If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
    Samuel Adams

    "The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them."
    Patrick Henry
    • by mrbester (200927) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:32PM (#43967313) Homepage

      "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

      C S Lewis

      • by slew (2918)

        Actually, I think this C. S. Lewis quote (I think it was from God in the Dock) was an observation concerning the tyranny of Organized Religion, not Government.
        FWIW, C.S. Lewis also wrote the Chronicals of Narnia...

  • But Do We Need This? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jasnw (1913892) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:44PM (#43966797)

    I am a long-time bleeding-heart liberal type, and while I am aghast at what we’ve given up in the name of The War on Terrorism I can see the usefulness, and perhaps even the imperative, for the US to collect and analyze data of this sort. If, and a very important if, the use of the data is carefully monitored by third parties and there are clear guidelines for collection, protection, and use of the data. Back in the Good Old Days of the 20th Century enemies were spatially located (for the most part). Spy satellites and spy boots-on-the-ground could be and were used to keep track of what people who wanted to do us harm were up to (in theory, anyway). These could also be used on US citizens, and there were pretty clear rules about not doing so (rules that were, admittedly, overlooked or circumvented at times). These days, the people who need to be watched are all over the world and are best tracked via lines of communication, most importantly cell phone and internet technologies. That’s what this is all about, keeping track of what’s going on so there are few surprises like the 9/11 fiasco.

    Now, can this be misused? You betcha it can. Faster than you can say Nixon (or your favorite Bad Guy’s name). However, to NOT collect and analyze these data is a bad idea as well. As always, there’s no perfect solution. I think those data need to be collected and analyzed to keep an eye on what’s happening, but we also need more transparency on the checks-and-balances put in place to make sure the data are used only for very clear purposes. Can this be done in today’s highly politicized, the-other-side-is-stupid, political environment? I don’t know, but I do think we need to try.

    • https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/06/why-metadata-matters

      I have every right to expect that my dealings are my business, particularly when dealing with an organization or individual who promises to keep our interaction private. Our government has been known to do Bad [wikipedia.org] Things [tennessean.com]. Your attitude assumes benevolence on Uncle Sam, when the evidence would seem to suggest that he can, at times, be a real jerk. Perhaps this administration can be trusted, (Can you keep a straight face while saying that?) but the last

    • by citylivin (1250770) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:16PM (#43967689)

      If the price to pay for security is selling my privacy, then I say security be damned!

      Of course it would be USEFUL to have all citizens monitored. Whats even more useful would be having cameras in peoples homes, recording everything they said and did. How terribly useful that would be!

      Obama is as bad as they come. He has had lots of chances now to make up for bush era fuckups. There are no more excuses for his behaviour that I will take.

  • ...that pen traces required a warrant.

    All this brouhaha about the government spying on metadata has been known by some of us for quite a while. This was known as "Total Information Awareness" a decade ago and Echelon before that (which didn't quite make the news because Echelon was *really* about looking at international traffic). People got all up in arms at the mere prospect of it and it went away in thle news, but it never really went away. Instead it got more funding. Companies like Facebook et alia cla

  • Rest assured (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Monday June 10, 2013 @04:59PM (#43966973) Homepage

    China is probably tapping your emails as well.

  • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:00PM (#43966979)

    It may indeed seem a good thing to archive all this sort of meta-data in order to facilitate some sort of specific data-mining operation. Proper controls may indeed be in place so that appropriate warrants must be obtained to look through the data for any particular individual or group.

    But all of this depends heavily on trust. Do you TRUST your government (and all future versions of such) to constrain themselves to appropriate usage of the data and indeed for the integrity of the data overall? If you cannot see yourself trusting your worst imaginable politically opposite cretin with such power, this really ought not to be something you'd support.

    What in the world would prevent a government from altering the data as they see fit to crucify whoever they'd like? You'd need not have an ironclad case for conviction to destroy folk. Just sufficient "evidence" to link them with child-pornography, drug-lords, or whatever may be deemed reprehensible and let the media finish the tar-and-feather job.

    Maybe the various service providers maintain their own copies of the data. Maybe not. But the "old" way of depending on CALEA to turn on a tap after a warrant seems far less susceptible to blatant abuse than a system where all the taps are supposedly taken ahead of time.

  • by rMortyH (40227) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:10PM (#43967079)

    Did any of these people stop to consider that CPNI data is routinely sold by Verizon and all other carriers unless they specifically opt out?

    How many Americans who are complaining about this have opted out of the CPNI sharing clause of their contracts?

    You are already giving permission, by not opting out, to your wireless and landline carriers to sell your metadata to ANYONE for ANY REASON, including the government, who may buy it on the open market just like anyone else. This data is seldom anonymized, and when it is, you can still search for specific characteristics to find the information of a specific person. And, any entity willing to pay for the information may have it, and it can be bought through a third-party data aggregator who will de-anonymize it and bundle it with plenty of other interesting facts about YOU.

    How many people have actually read their terms of service? Have they gone through the arcane process of opting out of the voluntary sharing of CPNI data? (Every year, for each carrier?) Will they now complain that no one warned them? Did they expect their politicians to keep them informed? If the politicians had tried, would they have listened? They didn't care when this became the norm 10 years ago, and now suddenly it's intrusive?

    This is what happens when you don't pay attention.

  • by yusing (216625) on Monday June 10, 2013 @05:11PM (#43967087) Journal

    "that the content of calls have remained private"

    As Chevy Chase used to say: "As far as you know."

    Doubt that the machines can be told to record conversations "of interest"? A week of MP3s doesn't take up much space.

  • "How much you can get wrong from metadata?" is a better question. A mistyped phone call could put you in deep water.

    Thats the same problem of using tools that identifies with "99% of accuracy" on everyone. You have 1% of mismatching the right person, and an unknown percent (usually, pretty high) of matching the wrong person.

    You, or someone that you care about will get a collateral damage, and it will be pretty ugly. They just don't admit when they are wrong.

  • The "metadata" is basically the key used to look up content when the dragon awakens to your existence.

    I also love how Feinstein, when asked about this massive data collection, side stepped the question and claimed that this was all with congressional oversight. Very clever misdirection of the concern.

    We never thought this was a rouge operation. The whole fucking problem is that it *IS* government policy.

  • by StormyWeather (543593) on Monday June 10, 2013 @06:15PM (#43967675) Homepage

    Could any of you democrats PLEASE PLEASE I'M BEGGING YOU to TAKE Lindsey Graham and stick the Democrat tag on him. For the love of everything that is right and good in this world. We conservatives HATE THIS DOUCHEBAG.

    We will take Ben Nelson in exchange, and vote for gay marriage in exchange.

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